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Rub a WWW, and make it Snappy

It's a long way to Halloween, but I'm already in the spirit of my favorite holiday as I cast a keen eye on the daily costume changes of my gum-snapping, beehive-wearing assistante Trixie Pixel.

    It's a long way to Halloween, but I'm already in the spirit of my favorite holiday as I cast a keen eye on the daily costume changes of my gum-snapping, beehive-wearing assistante Trixie Pixel. Trixie is my first line of defense, warding off all the crackpots trying to pass as tipsters.

    To show my appreciation, I help evaluate costumes all through October. Yesterday, it was Amelia Earhart--the propeller embedded in the forehead was a nice touch--and today it's Catwoman. I took one look at her rubber suit and called the hardware store to have a couple cans of WD-40 delivered.

    Intel had similar problems the other day while showing off a PC-TV at its Developer Forum. After promising the system would fit comfortably into a living room stereo cabinet, the company rep couldn't squeeze the bloated hardware hybrid into the snug faux-wood receptacle. Wait a second--they can fit zillions of transistors on a chip, but they can't figure out how to work a tape measure? Was it an inches-to-centimeters conversion problem? Maybe they should take some of that money they keep investing in CNET and buy themselves a nice set of Craftsman tools.

    Speaking of tight fits, many a CNET snicker has been heard ever since those Snap kids--God bless their innocent hearts--unveiled their, uh, exclamation point mascot, an emphatic little lovable who at first glance looks like a smiling condom. When I signed up Grandma DuBaud for the brand-spanking-new service, she spied ol' Snappy and almost spit her dentures into her poutine. It took my last ounce of persuasion to convince her that Snappy was not a prophylactic, but helas, all my hard work was undermined when Grandma spotted the little rascal in a banner ad on Playboy's Web site, where he's rumored to be in heavy rotation. CNET's already been a longstanding advertiser there, but only to appeal to those who are there for the interviews. Honest.

    While Snappy busts a move on Miss April, Pacific Bell is busting the chops of rival ISP Netcom. Someone Skincognito let me know that mega-PR firm Fleishman-Hillard is dropping Netcom as a client. At the same time, F-H is gaining the account of Pac Bell's Internet service. The upstart ISP-cum-rBOC, which hardly qualifies as an Internet underdog despite being in business for less than 18 months, is adding injury to insult by making much of its headway in Netcom's San Jose, California, backyard. Making friends all over the Golden State, Pac Bell also promised last month to offer high-speed Net access in parts of Silicon Valley, right under the noses of cable modem access provider @Home.

    I reported a couple of weeks back about the campaign to replace "www" with "web" in URLs across the land. It seems the anti-W bug is Skinfectious, as another reader writes to suggest an oral initiative to say "tri-dub" instead of the onerous "www" or the stuttering "dub-dub-dub." He also speculates on the nefarious origins of the tongue twister:

    "It's long been a suspicion of mine that Tim Berners-Lee choosing the longest letter in the English alphabet to clump together a triple-letter, nonword acronym was actually a subtle monkey-wrench attack by a tech insider mole to actually BRING DOWN the productivity of the technological elite..."

    On a more serious note, one of the technological elite, a pioneer in the field of communications and cyberspace law, has passed away. Judging by her long list of achievements, Anne Wells Branscomb probably didn't lose much productivity time to tongue twisters or anything else. She was 68. Are you one of the technological elite or do you just play one on TV? Either way, send me a rumor, and I promise not to dress as Marv Albert for Halloween.